Vendor Member Directory
Our manufacturer members are based across Ireland and Scotland. Here is a directory of all of these members. Feel free to get in touch with any of these members through their contact details below.
The House of EdgarContact: Nick Statt
History of Macnaughton Holdings
The business began over two hundred years ago at Remony near Aberfeldy, Perthshire. Alexander Macnaughton had worked as a tenant farmer, but in 1783 he decided to set up a small spinning mill to process both his own and his neighbours wool. Later two of his six sons took over and continued the trade at Remony until 1835.
In that year two of Alexander’s great-grandsons, Alexander and James, crossed the valley and founded a new firm, A & J Macnaughton, in the town of Pitlochry. The move took advantage of the ‘Age of the Railway’, with Pitlochry being on the main railway line to the north.
In addition to operating the woollen mill, the brothers opened a shop to cater for the needs of the ever expanding local townsfolk. The shop not only sold the wares from the mill, but also had what must have been one of the Highland’s earliest delicatessens.
Over the years the shop became rather well known and even enjoyed Royal patronage. Queen Victoria often travelled through Pitlochry on her trips north to Balmoral and she and John Brown were frequent visitors. On one occasion a rug was purchased in preparation for a cold trip on horseback, through Glenshee to Braemar. For many years the shop proudly displayed a telegram from the Palace stating, “The Queen is much pleased with the rug”.
The Firm continued to prosper during the 19th and 20th centuries, with its management being passed from father to son unbroken through the generations. The Second World War was generally kind to textiles and the firm prospered throughout, manufacturing blankets and fabrics for the forces and tweeds for everyday life.
Following the death of Alan Macnaughton, A & J Macnaughton was incorporated as a private limited company in 1957. During the 1960’s a period of diversification took place, with the Company taking over an Edinburgh based fabric wholesaler, The House of Edgar (Woollens) Limited and a Dumfries based weaver, The Isle Mill Limited. The new businesses were moved to Pitlochry and Aberdeen respectively.
On 18th June 1960 was an attempt being made to break the Throckmorton record of manufacturing wool into cloth and making it into a coat within a day. In 1811 Sir John Throckmorton offered a certain Mr Coexeter 1000 guineas if he could present to him by sunset on June 25 a coat made from wool, which had been on the sheep’s back on sunrise. This feat was accomplished in thirteen hours and twenty minutes amidst great rejoicing. Mr Blair Macnaughton, representing the National Association of Scottish Wool Manufacturers, in his attempt to beat this record, accomplished a similar feat in just six hours and ten minutes amidst equal rejoicing.
Such was the growth during the period 1987- 1992 that the company had outgrown its factory in Aberdeen, and all manufacturing activities were transferred
to the Morayshire village of Keith. The move was accomplished with a minimum of disruption, and all weaving activities continue there today.
With the huge growth of the tourist industry in Pitlochry in the 1970’s, the pool of labour willing to work in the textile industry dried-up. As there was a shortage of housing for textile workers, recruiting from outside the area was not an option. In 1983 the decision was taken to close the Pitlochry mill and the production was transferred to The Isle Mill in Aberdeen.
As is common with many family companies, ownership of the business had become increasingly fragmented throughout the generations; Macnaughtons was no exception. In 1987, a management buy-out/buy-in took place led by Blair Macnaughton, the current Managing Director, which led to the establishment of the current company, Macnaughton Holdings Ltd. ensuring that the management and ownership control of the business extended into the seventh generation of the family. By this time, the majority of the firm’s activities were targeted at the retail market, and it was the largest single retailer in Pitlochry, a thriving tourist resort. Nevertheless, the fresh impetus provided by this new generation of the family, led to a period of diversification into the soft furnishing market, and a renewed appetite for manufacturing and wholesaling. See family tree
In 1999 the Group’s head office and warehousing facility was relocated to Inveralmond in Perth. The Group divisionalised it’s operations in 2001, with Macnaughton Holdings Limited becoming the trading company and the subsidiary companies becoming dormant. The trading names of The Isle Mill, The House of Edgar, Whitehill & Wilsons and Macnaughtons of Pitlochry were however maintained.
Whilst the manufacturing and wholesaling arms of the business had grown dramatically during 1987-2003, the various retail businesses in Pitlochry was slowly disposed of. The final exit from “bricks and mortar” retailing occurred in 2003, with the sale of the flagship shop, Macnaughtons of Pitlochry, to another well known Perthshire family.
Further diversification into the furnishing market saw the purchase by the company of the Thomas Dare brand. This brand specialises in hand woven Indian cotton fabrics to the middle market.
In January 2005, the company launched two collections of furniture to complement its fabric collections. The look of “Thomas Dare Furniture” is one of contemporary leisure, utilising rattan and banana leaf styles of imported frames, whilst “Isle Mill Furniture” has the look of sophisticated elegance. This range is fully upholstered and U.K. made, complementing the natural wool of the Isle Mill fabrics perfectly.